Tottenham’s 1-0 loss to Liverpool on Saturday wasn’t a total loss for Spurs. Japhet Tanganga proved he was ready for the big time in the narrow defeat.
Japhet Tanganga’s inclusion in the Tottenham starting XI against Liverpool caught quite a few football fans by surprise on Saturday. The good news for Spurs is that the young centre back acquitted himself very well against Jurgen Klopp’s front line.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Tanganga was one of Tottenham’s best players on the day. He was partially at fault for Roberto Firmino’s match winning goal, but it was also a terrific bit of skill by the Brazilian. Otherwise, it’s hard to point to a single moment when Tanganga put a foot wrong in his Premier League debut.
According to Football London, Tanganga is a player that manager Jose Mourinho desperately wants to see ink a new contract with Tottenham in the very near future. That fact could have been partly responsible for the gaffer’s decision to surprise everyone by starting him against Liverpool. Then again, the way Tanganga played during the match makes it very clear that he’s ready to play a meaningful role for Spurs down the stretch of the current campaign.
Tottenham supporters shouldn’t be at all surprised if Tanganga maintains his place in Mourinho’s starting XI moving forward. He was the embodiment of what Mourinho wants from his centre backs for the full 90 minutes against Liverpool. In particular, his willingness to physically grapple with everyone one of Klopp’s attackers will have caught his manager’s eye. Toby Alderweireld is a terrific defender for Spurs, but he relies much more on his skill and positioning than brute strength. Playing Tanganga in a back three for Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez would give Spurs a very intimidating back line to deploy against physical Premier League attacks.
The one valid question about Tanganga’s role moving forward is where it leaves Jan Vertonghen. The Belgian veteran is in the midst of running down his contract with Spurs, although there have been several reports claiming he’s ready to ink a new deal. It’s possible that Tanganga’s emergence onto the scene could cost the Belgian veteran his place in North London.
Tottenham didn’t get the win they craved against Liverpool on Saturday, but the match wasn’t a total loss for Spurs. They learned a valuable lesson about just how good Japhet Tanganga can be for the squad in the very near future.